Friends of ours invited us to their home for dinner last Saturday. Unfortunately we couldn’t make it because we were going out of town for the weekend. Our friend’s response was one we hear a lot: “Where are you going now?” I chuckle every time I hear it. It’s true, it seems like we are always on the go – but that’s how we like it. Travel is as much a part of our lives as family, friends, exercise and even work. Besides “where are you going?” we also get asked “how do you travel so much?” The answer to this question is multifaceted. Read on to see a few of the ways WE make travel fit into our lives.
Before I begin, I feel like I must state this caveat. The following works for our household. You will likely have to adjust these ideas and tips to fit yours.
- Prioritize Travel – It might be obvious, but it is important. All other tips and ideas listed below will seem silly, extreme or not important enough if travel isn’t at the top of your list of things you want to do. Since you’re reading this blog I will assume travel is on your radar – or you want it to be!
- Budget your time – Most people understand that budgeting money is a given when it comes to planning a trip. However, most people don’t actively budget their time. If this is true for you, you’ll need to re-think the way you spend your days off. For example, Mike and I do “weekend chores” during the week. Therefore, when weekends roll around we are open for weekends away and not bogged down. We also look at a calendar at the beginning of each year. We map out when and how we can best utilize our vacation days. It takes time planning to manage your time, but we find it to be worth it. It’s very difficult to spend money wisely if you don’t budget it; the same applies to your time. William Penn said “Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.” Is this true about you? If so, start today re-examining your days off and see if you can’t carve out a day or even a week to use for travel.
- Go Natural – This one is (mostly) for the women. Quick question: how many pedicures have you paid for this year? Here’s some quick math. At (at least) $30 a pop – just one pedicure each month will cost you $360 each year. As of today, a round trip flight from Ft. Lauderdale to Palm Springs, CA was $250 on Virgin America. Hello! Take that flight and have $100 left over to get a killer mani/pedi at a spa in California. It’s amazing how quickly the “extras” in our life can add up. Maybe pedicures aren’t your beauty vice. Maybe it’s your hair? Maybe it’s facials? The list of costly beauty treatments is endless. All I’m saying is paint your own toe nails instead. Make your own moisturizing mask. Buy your make-up at the drug store, not department store. I wear make-up, and use hair products and enjoy a great blow-out at the salon. BUT it’s a rare treat, not a common occurrence.
- Be a minimalist – It seems like a logical place to mention that besides beauty regiments; we also go without other luxuries such as designer clothes, bling and new electronics. These things are not bad. They are just not on our priority list because I know we are saving for a trip. I ask myself before each purchase “Do I want this more than a trip to Europe?” If the answer is no, I put the item back. Even if it was a shirt that only cost $19.99. It’s amazing how easy it is to you nickel and dime (or $10 and $20) yourself out a vacation. Less is more in this case!
- Earn Rewards – Pick and hotel chain, airline and/or rental car agency you like and stick with them! We’ve been able to fly many places for free (or at a significantly reduced rate) just because we are loyal to that company. We always shop around, but will always pick “our” company over another if the cost/convenience difference is not that much. We do this because we know we will still gain points, miles, etc. for being a consistent customer. The more you travel, the more you earn … who can resist that deal! One hint: research the “local” business in your area. For example: One of Delta Airlines’ hubs is in Atlanta. If you live within 2 hours of Atlanta, fly Delta, every time!
- Travel Buddies – We travel by ourselves a good bit. However, anytime we get the chance to travel with friends or family, we do. First and foremost, it’s just FUN. Secondly, it can save you money on hotel rooms, rental cars, gas for the rental car, even excursions or outings if your group is big enough. What’s that? You say your extended family does not like to travel. Hmm, maybe you should reconsider who you are related to! Just kidding, keep asking. Someone will want to go with you.
- Waiting in Cue – Even if flights are not booked or hotels are not reserved, Mike and I are (almost) always planning a getaway. This helps us budget our time and money even more wisely since we know we’re working towards the goal of booking that trip. The trip waiting in our “cue” is like a piece of bait being dangled in front of a hungry fish. We just keep swimming towards our goal because we know what it is and how great it will be when we get it!
Work, family and friends are a huge, but worthwhile time commitment. Finding time to travel is not always easy. However, if you make it a priority in your life, you’ll make time for it. No more excuses! If you want it, go after it! Set a goal to travel at least once before the start of 2014. Whether your trip is overnight to a local B&B, a weekend trip to the nearest beach or a longer adventure to another state or even country, do it! Michael and I are living proof that you CAN travel even with full time careers and commitments! Make it a priority. Budget your time, go without some luxuries but JUST GO! Oh! And let me know about our trip once you’re back – I LOVE to hear about other’s travels!
The Wife with Baggage